Death and Burial

Death and Burial

The life of an Akiri is spent in contemplation of death. Indeed, the scarcity of water and food makes death a common event. The Akiri face the inevitable end with some optimism, believing that the afterlife will unite them with the glorious civilization of their ancestors. The Akiri are very concerned with their place in the afterlife, an entire life’s work might be devoted to collecting the materials needed to ensure a place of honour amongst the dead.

The common Akiri cannot afford extensive rituals for their dead, in the case of slaves the body is lowered into a sandy grave. The peasants of Har’Akir can afford for a priest to anoint the body before placing it in a simple coffin. The wealthier members of Akiri society can afford to partake in the more elaborate rituals of death.

Mummification: The Akiri believe that the spirit of the dead remains in the body. Indeed, life in the afterlife depends upon the survival of the corpse. The dry climate of the Amber Wastes allows for natural mummification. Bodies buried in the sand are desiccated, slowing decomposition dramatically. The Akiri have refined this natural process, creating an elaborate ritual to preserve the bodies of the dead for millennia.

The process begins with embalming, in the ibu of the temple of Anubis. The body is washed in palm wine and rinsed with water. The most important step in mummification is the removal of all of the moist organs, which is accomplished through an incision in the left side of the body. The lungs, liver and intestines are washed, dried and packed into canopic jars. Since the heart is necessary for life in the afterlife, it is left inside the body. The Akiri believe that the brain is useless, so it is removed with tongs through the nose.

The body is buried under a small pile of a salt known as natron and left in the sun for forty days. The dried carcass is washed with oil and water to retain elasticity. The body cavity is then filled with sawdust, salt and scrolls upon which funeral spells have been written. The body is then wrapped in linen and adorned with protective amulets. The linen is painted with resin, gluing the wrapping to the body. Finally the body is wrapped in a shroud upon which the picture of Osiris has been painted.

The internal organs of the deceased are protected in wooden canisters, known as canopic jars. The liver is inserted into a jar bearing the likeness of the human headed god Imsety, the lungs are held in a jar topped by the baboon god Hapy, a jar shaped as Anubis contains the stomach and the jar shaped into the likeness of Horus protects the intestines.

Sarcophagi: The body is contained in a series of coffins, which help to protect the body. The first coffin is made of wood, carved and painted in the likeness of the deceased. In the case of the wealthier priests and aristocrats of Har’Akir the coffin is made of stone, though in the ancient past the coffin was made of gold. The coffin is lowered into a stone sarcophagus, in which the body will rest for eternity.

Grave Goods: The tomb of the dead is filled with the goods that will be used in the afterlife. Furniture, food, coins and other objects are stored in the grave with the body. Any tomb of significance is literally a trove of treasure, waiting to be plundered by an impious thief. Often the tomb contains a variety of mummified animals, kept as pets for the afterlife. Small statues are found in tombs, representing slaves who will labour in the afterlife.

Tombs: For most Akiri, the desert itself is their tomb. Simple graves are dug into the sand and the bare body, or coffin, is buried. The wealthier Akiri can afford to have their bodies buried in real tombs, cut from the rock of the mountains in the Eastern corner of their land. The style of tombs has changed over the course of centuries. Tombs dating back before the reign of Ankhtepot were elaborate structures, built in a similar manner to temples or ziggurats. However, in the centuries of decline the style of tomb changed to reflect the ease by which such tombs were spotted and looted by thieves.

Most of the more recent tombs found in Har’Akir and Sebua are built in a standard fashion. A horizontal shaft is dug into the mountainside, and branches off into a “t” shape. The two branches run parallel with the cliff face, and serve as storage places for the grave goods. The shaft continues forward extending into the funerary chamber. Though not the actual resting place of the body, this is the ceremonial room where the final funeral rituals are conducted. The burial chamber is cut into the rear of the funerary chamber and is sealed behind a great stone door. The burial chamber is very ornate as holds the most expensive goods in the grave, including the canopic jars. The sarcophagus itself is held in a well, cut in the centre of the burial chamber.

The Akiri believe that the tomb is the home of the dead during the afterlife, so it is decorated accordingly. The walls of tombs are painted with all manner of images, depicting scenes from the deceased’s life as well as the soul’s journey through the afterlife. Interwoven throughout the murals are the hieroglyphic writings of the Akiri language. Those who can decipher the symbols can read of the history of the deceased, as well as the legends of Akiri religion.

Long before the decline of Akiri culture, tomb builders recognized the necessity of security. The entrances to tombs are secured with massive stone doors, locked with an intricately designed seal. For millennia the Akiri have practiced the art of trap building, inserting insidious devices into the crypts of their patrons. While Akiri tombs are infamous for traps, experienced crypt raiders know that the devices are often of poor quality. Since such snares are designed to last for centuries, trading lethality for longevity.

Death and Burial

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